Cream of the crop honoured at annual gala

McClelland, Cation recognized as Athletes of the Year

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

“Surprised” was the word of choice at the 65th annual Western Athletic Banquet, held on Tuesday night at the London Convention Centre.

Indeed, Mustangs Peter McClelland and Jayne Cation were shocked to take home the night’s top honours as Western’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Male Athlete of the Year

Peter McClelland

For those familiar with the accomplishments of rower Peter McClelland, it was no surprise that he took home the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy as Male Athlete of the Year.

The fourth-year rower, however, was not among those believers.

Up against a strong field of candidates, including last year’s winner, Randy McAuley, Ontario University Athletics All-Star soccer netminder Haidar Al-Shaibani and track and field Canadian Interuniversity Sport gold medalist Andrew Judge, McClelland was at a loss for words following the announcement of his win.

“It’s a surprise ... I had absolutely no idea that [the award] was coming,” McClelland said after winning.

Quick to divert praise, McClelland identified men’s rowing head coach Volker Nolte as the one deserving of the accolades.

“The coaching staff is incredible on the men’s side,” he said. “Volker shows incredible leadership, incredible coaching, and he’s been an inspiration to the whole team ... but even beyond the wins and losses, there’s incredible people working [in this program].”

The kinesiology major and King City native has an impeccable athletic resume.

Among the most notable of his many accomplishments is a gold medal at the 2006 Canadian Commonwealth games in the men’s eights and pairs.

The Canadian University Rowing Association also named McClelland Athlete of the Year in 2006. In 2007, he won both OUA and CIS gold as a member of the Western team.

Indeed, when the criteria for the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy are examined, McClelland is a worthy candidate, having excelled at the provincial, national and even international level.

Female Athlete of the Year

Jayne Cation

The crowd rose and provided Jayne Cation with a sea of applause as she claimed the F.W.P. Jones Trophy as Western’s Female Athlete of the Year, tallying her third award of the evening.

The senior rugby superstar was initially recognized for contributing to her team’s undefeated season and silver medal finish at nationals by picking up the women’s rugby Most Valuable Player award.

Cation discussed her MVP honor and was quick to attribute her own personal accomplishments to the effort put forth by her entire team.

“We have a wonderful team, and everyone deserves recognition,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to get that extra little bit of recognition, but honestly, I wouldn’t be anywhere without my team.”

The seasoned veteran was then recognized, on a broader scale, for her athletic excellence at the national level, earning a prestigious Purple Blanket award.

Cation captured the Female Athlete of the Year award going against her teammates Tanja Ness and Gillian McCallum.

When asked about her feelings on her third and final honour of the night, Cation once again dodged the spotlight, paying tribute to her teammates.

“I was rooting for my teammates the entire time,” Cation said. “I was completely not expecting my name to be called, it’s just such a surprise.”

Both Cation and fellow Purple Blanket winner McCallum were quick to credit rugby coach and Coach of the Year nominee Natascha Wesch for their success.

“I’d like to thank Natascha Wesch who couldn’t be here tonight. She was my coach for the first time when I was 16, and I loved playing for her, so that’s why I came here,” McCallum said. “I give her a lot of credit.”

As she reflected on a night that saw her reign as this year’s only ‘triple award winner,’ Cation was overcome with disbelief.

While three distinguished awards might leave some brimming with pride, Cation was the picture of humility.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” she said. “It’s completely overwhelming.”

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